“Amber! Stop watching so much TV! You gon’ go blind!” my mother would constantly tell me as a child. Aside from the fact that my vision DID worsen over the years, she thought I’d wasted my time “watching” the screen. “Watching?” In my vocabulary, “watching” something means you’re emptily staring at it, as if it’s going to do a trick or something. Honestly, anyone can sit on their butt, open a cool, refreshing beverage, and mind-numbingly stare at a TV for hours. What my mom didn’t understand was that I wasn’t “watching” the TV at all; I was listening…to every word that came out of a character’s mouth.
Saturday mornings, before school, after school, bedtime; every time was cartoon time for me. Up until now, I was puzzled as to why cartoons interested me so much. Was it the flashy animations? The zany music? The exceptional episode plots? Finally, the reason hit me when I was in the 4th grade. One day at recess, a few of my friends and I were pretending to be Powerpuff Girls. One of the girls decided to be Blossom, while the other one wanted to be Bubbles. I asked the girl who was playing Blossom why I couldn’t be Blossom, and she just laughed and said, “You have to be Buttercup because you sound like a boy like she does!” As both girls were laughing at me because of my voice, I strangely didn’t get upset at all. Instead, I smiled, flexed my nonexistent muscles, and screamed “Grrr! I’m Buttercup! I’m the roughest, toughest, Powerpuff Girl ever! Come on girls! Let’s kick some butt!” The girls cheered and told me that I sounded just like her! It was then that I realized I enjoyed imitating the silly voices found in cartoons. I began making others in my class laugh by impersonating different characters, and at that point in my life, I felt like I myself was a cartoon.
I was officially introduced to the world of voice acting when I was 13 years old after I was asked by one of my online friends to play a role in one of their video projects. One thing led to another, and pretty soon I was contributing to dozens of fan-based projects and voice acting contests. Although this was a fun experience to be apart of, I sadly realized that I had no original content to show if I ever wanted to become a professional. I am currently in my 3rd year of college, and I am beginning to pursue my dream by creating my own demo voice reel, taking a multitude of training classes, and building my webpage and business cards to spread the word about my talents. At the same time, I am always online searching for any original projects that may need some voiceover assistance. A few months ago, I personally received a bit of advice from one of my voice acting idols, Jim Cummings, about excellent ways to stick my foot into the business. One of the things he told me was to “explore every possibility out there,” words that I have treasured and taken seriously ever since.
Voice Acting is a highly competitive industry, but at the same time it is in high demand across the country. Voiceovers are everywhere, from airports and theme parks to commercials and radio broadcasts; literally everywhere a person goes, a voiceover is not far behind. To me, those unseen, hardworking people are more heroic and underappreciated than any regular actor one sees in a movie. It took hours of staring at a glowing screen and loosing a portion of my perfect vision for me to figure this out. Oh well…in order to gain something, one must give, I suppose.
*image drawn by a friend of mine